The normally sensible Nick Cater is stoking up anti-university sentiment in the Australian this morning:
Universities would no doubt deny that overseas students have been taking places from Australians at our best universities, but that is what the numbers suggest.
The number of Australian students commencing courses at Group of Eight universities fell by more than 2000 between 2009 and 2018. The number of overseas students doubled to 60,000.
Australian student numbers are down 2000 and that proves foreign students are crowding out local students?
Yet we are also told:
The growth in domestic students was bound to hit its natural limit, …
Consistency? Coherence? Is this an example of the excellent high-quality education system that existed before international students came to our shores?
Teaching staff are obliged to divert their attention to issues of basic literacy.
Nick, mate, everyone’s English and maths is bad these days. Everyone.
Now while I agree with Nick on the need for profound reform* within the university system, the whole notion that we can return to a small locally funded elitist university system is the equivalent idea that we can run an economy on fairy dust and unicorn farts.
So ask yourself these questions:
- Are you prepared to pay more in the form of income tax to educate an elite?
- Do you think that bureaucrats should decide who is worthy enough to go to university?
If you answered “No” to even one of those questions then you have give away your anti-foreign bias, or bigotry as we used to call it, and accept that foreign students, or paying customers as they are called in the private sector, are going to play an important part in the Australian education system.
Reform of the Australian university system will require careful thought and analysis, not the-University-of-Sydney-has-driven-me-wild thought.
*My RMIT colleagues and I are working on a project that looks at the impact of the digital revolution, given COVID-19, on the university sector. What we have in mind is far more radical than conservatives plotting revenge on pesky university administrators who don’t kow-tow to the government.